2021: A Year in Review

They can’t all be good photos, right?!

Welp, friends … there goes another year. As the photo above indicates, we’ve had our highs and lows. I think the year didn’t quite pan out the way most of us were hoping it would, but still, there were bright spots to be found.

Here’s hoping 2022 brings you and your family all the happiness and cheer that you deserve! And here’s what we were able to get up to in 2021 …

April

We dusted off our travel boots for the first time in more than a year (!) this past April for a trip to the mountains. We headed to one of our favorite low-key spots โ€” Granby Ranch โ€” and the older girls even tried their hand at skiing for the first time.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Lotte, Grace & Emilia cuddled up on our couch in the cabin.
Chris and the big girls posing on frozen Grand Lake.
They look a little weathered here because this was after their lessons … but I HAD to get a pic of the two of them with their adorable little set of skis!
We wrangled the kids to take a quick selfie when we got out on the lake in Grand Lake.

June

By the time June rolled around, Chris and I were fully vaccinated, and we were able to start hosting some of our favorite people at our house again. We also went on a fun mountain/lake hike, Lotte continued her adventures in skiing and started running (well, that was pre-June, but I blogged about it in June!) and we continued to find adventures everywhere we could in the great Colorado outdoors. We also spent Father’s Day in one of Chris’ favorite places.

Grandpa came for his first visit in more than a year!
Lotte started track!
Evergreen Lake, Evergreen, Colorado
Evergreen Lake, Evergreen, Colorado
Me and my JMU girls ๐Ÿ˜‰
We sure do love a good splash pad!
Just a dad and his trio of ladies.

July

The end of June and beginning of July was a busy time for us, as we packed up the car and hit the road for our trip out East! We started in Colorado and made out way out to New Jersey and New York and then back, stopping in a number of states along the way. (You can find all the gritty details here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

Cody Park, Nebraska
Cody Park, Nebraska
The Bean in Chicago!
Brigantine Beach, NJ
These cutie cousins <3
With Atlantic City in the background
Staying at a real, working farm in Pennsylvania was … interesting!
One of the best stops on our trip home!
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
entering Colorado on the way home
Colorado State Line

Then, at the end of July, our firstborn turned FIVE!

August

We hosted more of our besties in August, Lotte started kindergarten, Grace returned to preschool and we managed to make it to Frisco for one final summer mountain visit.

Frisco, Colorado
Frisco, Colorado
Em’s first Frisco visit!

September

We hosted one of Chris’ good friends in September, and they hiked a 14er (a tradition they started years ago). We also spent Labor Day at Standley Lake with friends.

Kayaking on Standley Lake
Kayaking on Standley Lake
Standley Lake, Arvada
Standley Lake, Arvada

October

We spent October in our traditionally favorite way … with all the fall activities!

December

As the holidays rolled around, we were really looking forward to spending Christmas and New Years with family back in New York. Unfortunately, Covid had different plans for us. Perhaps we’ll have better luck next year. Still, we managed to get a day in Manhattan, and we did get to spend actual Christmas Day with family, which was an upgrade from last year, so we’ll call it a win.

Times Square is never not entertaining!
Grace was very taken with the Rockefeller tree ๐Ÿ˜‰
Snow on Christmas Eve was a perk!
Christmas Day cuties
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

And that’s 2021, my friends. We’re looking forward to a quiet New Years Eve (and wedding anniversary, for myself and Chris <3) and planning for (hopefully) some fun travels to come in the New Year.

But until then … bis bald, friends!

The Covid Christmas We Should Have Seen Coming

Christmas Day was surprisingly joyful, considering what came before and after …

As the final days of 2021 wind down, I’m hoping that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. Our trip to New York for the holidays got disrupted by an outbreak of Covid within our family (extended family, at least, so far the five of us are still Covid-free), so we ended up cutting it short by a week. Still, we managed to pack in a lot of celebrating before things turned ugly.

While I’m grateful for the positive things that came this year โ€” vaccines, three healthy daughters who turned five, four and one, a husband who loves me and takes care of us in this roller coaster of a life, a career that I really love, and so much more โ€” I also won’t be sad to see it go.

Here’s hoping there’s even more to look forward to in 2022. Bis bald, friends … and happy New Year!

The “Calm” Before the Storm

The week heading into our trip was crazy for us, as well, with my stepdad flying in for a visit, Grace turning four and Emilia turning one. We managed to get in a lot of partying before we even boarded the plane.

My sweet, sassy middle daughter. I hope you never, ever change <3
She insisted on having her dinosaurs with her in this picture. Just one of the many reasons I love her so.
My last baby. Emilia turning one has been bittersweet for me. It’s the most fun to watch her grow, and also the saddest to leave the baby phase behind.
Never. Not. Happy.
We took the family to see the holiday lights at Chatfield Farms before we flew out to New York, which ended with freezing cold kids and lots of tears … but it was pretty while it lasted!
Early Christmas at home before we left meant another excuse to wear our matching Christmas pajamas … not that I ever need an excuse.
Thank you, Denver Airport, for having all the fun holiday entertainment! Emilia hadn’t met Santa yet, so this helped me tick that item off my bucket list ๐Ÿ˜‰
As a surprise to no one, Emilia is a champion traveler.
At Grandpa’s …. pre-Covid confirmations :/

New York City for a Day

We had always planned to head into the city for a day during this trip, but we got spooked by Covid numbers the morning we were meant to catch the train. So we ditched the public transport idea and decided to rent a car, instead. I’m so glad we did, because it ended up being a highlight of the trip. It was the first visit for Emilia, and seeing the city we love all decked out for the holiday … well, there’s really nothing quite like it.

We stuck to the touristy parts of midtown โ€” Grand Central, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window displays โ€” and seeing these things through the kids’ eyes, for the first time, was so much fun.

Ah, the allure of a mini-van. I won’t lie … it was definitely nice having this extra room! We love our Highlander, but a mini-van … let’s just say I get it now.
There is nothing like that skyline.
This is the building where it all started for me. My first real job in magazines โ€” an internship at More and then a full-time gig at Parents โ€” was right here, and I must have walked these streets hundreds of times. To be back there, taking a photo with my girls, really meant a lot to me <3
Of all the places in the city to visit on a holiday trip, Bryant Park is my absolute favorite.
And of course no NYC trip is complete without a big ole’ street vendor pretzel!
Times Square was freezing! But the ball was up, and the girls thought the craziness was so much fun!
Grace was very excited by the Rockefeller Christmas Tree ๐Ÿ˜‰
We spent a lot of time in front of these window displays, and Lotte would have stayed even longer! She was so thoroughly entranced by them, and it was the cutest thing in the world to see.
We ended our visit with a trip to Grand Central, where Chris showed the girls the parabolic curve (where you can talk to people on opposite sides!) and the pretty main hall.
And the Grand Central Market for treats, of course!
Love ya, NYC. Until next time …

Christmas and the Days Before It

We learned the day after we got back from the city that my stepdad had Covid, so we hightailed it out of his house and went over to my sister’s (after we all got negatives on our rapid tests, of course). This ended up being futile, since our Christmas morning tests were negative again, and by the next day my brother-in-law and then sister had it, as well. Still, for those couple of days, we continued on, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Chris and I had already decided that we would be leaving early, and we had already cancelled our Airbnb trip to a lake house in PA (THANK YOU AIRBNB FOR ISSUING A REFUND!) and had moved our flights up by a week to return home (THANK YOU SOUTHWEST FOR ALLOWING US TO DO THIS FOR ONLY THE COST OF THE FLIGHT CHANGE, A MEASLY $150!). We figured if we’re going to get sick, we’d want to be at home when that happened.

Plus, we had nowhere to stay. We officially had Covid cases in both of the family homes where we could go.

I know a lot of people had their holidays ruined or changed due to Covid this year, and I can only hope that by next year, we’ll be in a better place. Who knows, really, but for now, like I said, I’m counting my blessings …

At least there was snow on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Eve gifts from elves, courtesy of my sister <3
At-home manicures were a big hit!
The cutest.
Also the cutest!
Christmas morning cuties!
Grace’s face pretty much says it all … does it not?!

And that was our trip in a (shortened) nutshell, friends. We made it back home in one piece, which is pretty much all that I can ask for at this point, and we’ll be ringing in the New Year together as a family of five <3

See you all in 2022 … and BIS BALD!

Keep the drinks coming!

A Solo Mom-Daughter Trip to New York With Grace

img_6609

Happy Tuesday, friends! Grace and I returned yesterday from our first-ever solo mom-daughter trip, and we had a blast! I’ve taken Lotte out to New York by myself twice in the past, and although it’s always a ton of work (major shout-out to all the single parents out there … oh myย gosh is it exhausting!), I always have the best time bonding one-on-one with the girls individually.

This time Grace and I flew out to New York so that we could attend my sister’s two baby showers, one of which was actually in Pennsylvania. We got to hang with so much family, and Grace got to be the sole recipient of so many cuddles and kisses … plus she didn’t have to share her toys with anyone, which was a huge plus in her book! My sister had Monday off last week anyway, but then she ended up having snow days on both Tuesday and Thursdayย and she got out early on Wednesday, so all-in-all it was a great week to be visiting.

Continue reading “A Solo Mom-Daughter Trip to New York With Grace”

Ticking Things Off Little Lotte’s Bucket List

Happy Tuesday, friends! The above video is of my little Weary Wanderer, about to explore her world. We just got back from a trip East for a whole bunch of fun reasons. We celebrated my sister’s 30th birthday (only a month early, no big deal), visited with my Grandma, saw all the cousins, and of course, ticked one big thing off Lotte’s bucket list – seeing the Statue of Libertyย in person.ย 

I don’t know how it started, really, other than the fact that Lotte has about five New York City books, but she has really become obsessed with the Statue of Liberty, and it’s the most adorable thing ever. So, when we flew into Newark, we hopped in our rental car and drove to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, with a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. It was a really fun time for us, and Lotte was so in awe. It’s definitely something Chris and I will never forget.

The rest of the weekend was amazing, as well. We spent two days at a mountain house that a friend of ours was renting near Woodstock, and Lotte had an amazing time playing in the pool and running around with my friend’s daughter, and Grace had the best time playing with her son, who is one month younger. We also visited a whole bunch of new locations (like Weeds Orchard and Brown Barn Farms) and on Sunday, we met up with Robert for breakfast at Chadwick Lake Park before hiking a trail near the lake that was built and dedicated to my Mom by an Eagle Scout neighbor of hers. They had been close and he was so upset when she passed, that this was something he wanted to do for her. The trail was beautiful, and being there with the girls meant so much to me. I’m glad this place will be there to be able to take the girls for years to come.

Here’s a bit of what our trip looked like …

IMG_6944IMG_6945IMG_6946IMG_6947IMG_6948IMG_6949
^^ Lots of photos even before we left airport, because that’s what a one-hour delay will do to you.

IMG_6950IMG_6951IMG_6952IMG_6953 (1)
^^ And there she is, in all her glory! Lotte literally whispered “Statue of Liberty!” when she first saw her … she was so blown away. We spent about two hours at the park, which is so amazing, and let the girls run around and get some energy out before heading on over to my sister’s.

IMG_6954 (1)IMG_6956 (1)IMG_6957 (1)IMG_6958 (1)IMG_6959 (1)IMG_6960 (1)IMG_6961 (1)IMG_6963 (1)IMG_6964 (1)

After spending the night at Steph’s on Wednesday, we headed to Woodstock to hang with Carla and her daughter and son at their summer house. It was so much fun to spend time with them, playing in the pool, barbecuing, drinking and chatting.

IMG_7049IMG_7050IMG_7051IMG_7052IMG_7053IMG_7054IMG_7055IMG_7062IMG_7072IMG_7090
^^ This moment where we spotted a frog in the grass and let Lotte hold it was pretty special to me, too. The extent of her knowledge about frogs up to that point had been seeing them in books and knowing that they say, “ribbit, ribbit.” To watch her see and touch one in real life was a super fun moment.

IMG_7139IMG_7140IMG_7141
^^ This crew <3

IMG_7143
^^ Linus and Grace were having a little love affair with each other all weekend long, and it was kind of the cutest.

IMG_7146IMG_7159IMG_7225
^^ Brown Barn Farms was the cutest little spot! The drinks were good, the view was glorious, and the food truck served up some tasty dinner, too.

IMG_7227IMG_7228IMG_7229IMG_7230IMG_7231IMG_7232IMG_7468
^^ Heading out to Aunt Stephie’s early birthday party at Weeds Orchard with the fam.

IMG_7469IMG_7470IMG_7471IMG_7472IMG_7473IMG_7474IMG_7475IMG_7476IMG_7477IMG_7478IMG_7479IMG_7480IMG_7483IMG_7485IMG_7662IMG_7663
^^ On Sunday morning we met Robert at Chadwick Lake Park to have a quick breakfast and then head over to the trail that was built in my Mom’s memory. It was a great day.

IMG_7664
^^ This is such a crazy picture for me. So this tree is a part of a larger tree that used to live near my old elementary school, Balmville School, and this was the Balmville Tree. It was the oldest tree in the U.S., and when it started to rot, they decided to preserve parts of it and put it in Chadwick Lake Park as a memorial. I hadn’t seen it in this spot before, though, and to see my daughter standing in a tree that is so synonymous with my childhood, it was a little surreal.

IMG_7665IMG_7666IMG_7667IMG_7668IMG_7670IMG_7671 (1)IMG_7672IMG_7673IMG_7674
^^ Love, love, love this crew <3

IMG_7675IMG_7676IMG_7677IMG_7725
^^ And later in the day it was back to my sister’s to meet up with my Grandma and have a little barbecue before we headed out super early on Monday morning.

IMG_7727IMG_7728

And that was our trip in a nutshell. It went by super fast and was jam packed, but the girls had a really great time, I think, and I loved spending that quality time with all the people we were able to see. Trips back east are always busy, but they’re also always amazing, and being able to bring my girls along for the ride … it really means so much to me.

The plane ride back home was not our best, since both girls were entirely exhausted and yet not interested in sleeping (Grace napped for about 20 minutes and Lotte not at all), but we pulled out the big guns with all the toys and books and snacks and “TV School Bus” (aka videos), and we made it through.

IMG_7754IMG_7755IMG_7756IMG_7759

IMG_7753

IMG_7765IMG_7771

And just like that, we were back in good ole’ Denver. And also just like that, it’s almost September?! How in the how did that happen? I do love Fall, though, and we have our big Australia trip to look forward to, so big, good, fun things ahead, my friends.

I hope you all have had wonderful summers, and until the next time … bis bald!

Spontaneous Trips Back North Are the Best

This past weekend was so. much. fun. My stepdad โ€” in all his loveliness โ€” decided last-minute to treat my little family of three to a trip back to New York for my brother-in-law’s 30th birthday bash at Warwick Winery. It was really great because my dad and Judy and Jen and all her fam were also there, along with my aunt and uncle and cousin Nicole, plus a ton of Brian’s family. The weather was gorgeous and the kids had a blast. It really was the loveliest. Then on Sunday we surprised my grandma at dinner at my aunt’s. She didn’t know we were coming into town, so that was pretty much the best ๐Ÿ˜‰ Watching her with my daughter … I mean there’s pretty much nothing I love more.

Here’s some of our weekend in photos. Thanks again for the awesome gifted trip, Robert!

01_Airplane
^^ Weather over LaGuardia kept us in the air for an extra hour on our flight into New York, but at least we got these views of the city …

02_NY Views03_ NY Views04_NY Views05_Travel Pillow
^^ This ladybug neck pillow was a gift to Lotte from Grandpa, but Mom & Dad like using it, too ๐Ÿ˜‰

06_Sleeping Lotte
^^ This little ladyย never falls asleep on me anymore, but on both flights she fell asleep on us because she was just too exhausted to do anything else. It’s pretty much the best.

07_Grandpa and Lotte08_Lotte and Ranger
^^ Hesitantly curious about Ranger the first night home.

09_Crazy Hair10_Bedtime
^^ Bedtime book routine!

11_Uncle Brian
^^ Happy birthday Uncle Bri!

12_Helicopter
^^ There’s a huge private house up the hill from the winery, and apparently the owners have a private helicopter, because it was parked outside their property and Rory was fascinated by it!

13_Helicopter14_Horse15_Rory Field16_Auntie M17_Hat
^^ And thus begins a photo series of my daughter wearing a backwards baseball hat.

18_Hat19_Hat20_Hat21_Hat
^^ Gah! Sometimes (most times) we seriously cannot with her.

22_Auntie M23_ Winery Fam
^^ The gang’s all here!

24_Sunday Outfit
^^ Dressed to the nines to surprise GiGi at Sunday dinner.

25_GiGi
^^ These two <3

26_GiGi and Grandpa27_Lotte and Ranger
^^ By the time dinner rolled around Sunday night, Lotte was pretty sure she and Ranger were besties.

28_ Grandpa bedtime29_ Monday Morn
^^ Final morning with Grandpa before heading back to Colorado :/

30_Flight Home
^^ Ready to fly!

31_ Snoozin
^^ Not gonna lie, it took a lot to get to this photo. This was by far the hardest flight we’ve had with Lotte. She’s older now, so she’s not as interested in sleeping/breastfeeding/hanging out on our knee. Despite tons of snacks and toys and books, there just isn’t enough to distract a 10-month-old in four hours of flying. She had a seriously major freak-out when she reached her peak tiredness and didn’t know what to do with herself, but as soon as the seatbelt sign went out Chris was able to walk around with her and she passed out in his arms. Thank goodness! Then of course he passed out ๐Ÿ˜‰ Two sleeping babes.

32_ Happy Baby
^^ Blurry, but we were home and happy! Wahoo!

Thanks again for the trip, Grandpa โ€” it meant so much to us to be able to come and be with everyone.

Till next time, bis bald!

From New York to Philly to Virginia & Back โ€” a Trip East With My Little

_DSC7276
^^ The most amazing turnout โ€” with the most amazing group of women โ€” for the MS fundraiser in honor of my Mom.

Heya friends,

So we’re back from our monster trip east, and Lotte & I had an amazing time. We saw so much family and so many friends, we covered miles & miles & miles in the car together (one of these days I’ll have to actually sit down and see how many miles we really drove), Lotte saw her first monuments in D.C., she spent tons of quality time with her Philly cousins, she was the hit of the MS fundraiser my sister & I held in honor of Mom at Wine & Design in Warwick, she attended her great-grandma and great-aunt’s 95th birthday party … and oh-so-many more important and amazing things.

Before we actually had Lotte, we weren’t exactly sure how much traveling we’d do with her. Traveling with kids isย hard and at times very stressful, and let’s be honest, it’s not like she’s making lasting memories here. But you know what …ย we are. And I’ve come to realize as Lotte grows and goes through babyhood that that is just as important. These trips we take with her are some of my fondest memories, and I will never forget them. (Neither, luckily, will she, since I take extensive notes to put in her baby travel diary โ€” complete with pictures! โ€” andย of course she’ll always have this blog to refer to, as well.)

The point is – yes, traveling with kids can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, but so far, I am never sorry for the trips we’ve done with Lotte, and I only hope that continues.

Here’s a look at what we got up to over the past 10 days in photos. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give another BIG shout-out to my husband for flying out and surprising us last Friday to be there for my Mom’s fundraiser, my Grandma’s 95th birthday party and, of course, to help on the flight back home with Lotte. Funny how four hands are so much better than two when it comes to flying with Littles ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_7213
^^ All prepped and ready for our first solo flight as Mom & baby! In all seriousness, though, I know how lucky Chris & I got with Lotte. She’s a pretty solid, amazing little traveler, so things might be a tadย different is she were more difficult …

IMG_7274
^^ We don’t have a dog at home, so Lotte’s only real interaction with them so far has been at my stepdad’s house with Ranger. Honestly I wasn’t sure how Ranger would react to Lotte at first โ€” he can be a bit of a loose cannon โ€” but especially in his older age, he tolerates her quite nicely, which is nice, because she is obsessed!

IMG_7275IMG_7322
^^ Quick pit stop at Aunt Steph’s & Uncle Brian’s on Saturday to pick them up on our way into Pennsylvania for Rory’s 4th birthday party.

IMG_7324
^^ These two together = major cuteness! Peyton, on the right, is actually three months younger than Lotte, but she’s almost the same size. It’s really only when she gets with other babies that I’m reminded of what a tiny nugget Lotte is!

IMG_7325IMG_7330
^^ Dad’s fancy omelette bar on Sunday morning.

IMG_7356IMG_7361
^^ Jude!

IMG_7367IMG_7422
^^ Rory seriously loves Lotte, and it’s pretty much the sweetest.

IMG_7520IMG_7521FullSizeRender

IMG_7626
^^ Cuddles with my babe on our first day in Arlington, Virginia, to visit Lisa. I think I honestly was just so relieved the car ride from Pennsylvania went well!

IMG_7630IMG_7638IMG_7660
^^ This bear was pretty amazing to use as a backdrop in many-a-Lotte photo!

IMG_7667
^^ Driving into D.C. to take in the sites โ€” don’t let this innocent face fool you, sheย screamed the entire way in and the entire way out! Those two car rides โ€” which must have amounted to about 20 minutes total โ€” and the one back to Newark airport to head home were the only ones she fussed (or should I say threw a tantrum) for. I guess that was … lucky?!

_DSC7147
^^ Patriotic Baby.

_DSC7166
IMG_7770
^^ In front of the Reflecting Pool … not impressed!

IMG_7771
^^ At the World War II Memorial … not impressed!